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Why did Xander limit himself (outside of generally being a Scooby)?

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  • Why did Xander limit himself (outside of generally being a Scooby)?

    "The Pack" (B 1.06) already showed Xander could be "cool" and popular.

    "Go Fish" (B 2.20) proves Xander could have been an athlete.

    Xander was in the same classes as Willow, Buffy, and Cordelia yet he clearly didn't study much or at all for the SATs.

    Xander fought vampires and demons yet never trained with Giles, or Riley, or anyone.

    Xander never tried to learn magic.


    Regarding his romantic life, dating Cordelia didn't seem to give him any confidence boost regarding his 'chances' with other women. He settles for Anya because she's literally the only attractive girl he seems to think would want to date him.

    "The Replacement" (B 5.03) pushes Xander to be successful but we never see Xander take any business classes. And post-BtVS S8 he's never a major player in the construction industry.

    Xander is impressed by Riley's demon-fighting skills, yet never tries to 'be more like Riley'.

  • #2
    I think Xander is a practical person... someone whose talents lie in making and fixing and building things. He's resourceful and creative. He's the guy who at 13 would be in shop class if his family encouraged him... and working for an uncle with a trade in his teens, learning the skills and the business stuff by doing... which seems to be what he did... when we see him in season seven, he's got a stack of plans... that suggests he's at minimum a construction manager. While you can go to business school (and outside of a small town book learning will hurt you) what actually matters to the construction company is whether you can read plans, get the building up on time and under budget and depending on the job, deal with clients and various hires.

    I think part of why we don't see him grow visibly is that he's doing it out of the eye of Buffy's life. But in season 6, he has a crap second hand car. By season 7, he's got a decent car, he's dressing like the boss, not the semi vagrant he was looking like sometimes back in season 4 when he got the funny syphilis.

    While I don't think he's dumb, there's another thing that can hold a person back from doing well in academics (it holds you back less in practical trades b/c those aren't so linear in terms of hitting specific markers, exams and qualifications). That thing is his family life.

    His father is a drunk. His uncle is a drunk. His family is uber dysfunctional. We know this from the fact that Xander felt forced to camp outside in Sunnydale, at night to get away from his family! We know this from the vomit in the purse, from the car he gets to drive b/c Uncle Rory has a DUI or is it 'another' DUI... We also know his father is abusive... We see this at the end of season 4 in that dream where he's dreaming of family violence while the others are dreaming of random stuff and rasta first slayers. We see this from his father's behavior toward his mom at the wedding, when he was probably at his BEST behavior. We see it in the mother's reaction. I spell this out, b/c sometimes people seem to not see the evidence.

    Anyway, adult children of addicts tend NOT to thrive in life. Frankly, without Buffy, Willow and Giles, I suspect Xander would have not lived to graduate high school, or he'd have become an addict of some sort.

    Why would he do well in school? School is hard, his mind is full of pain from childhood... and no one is encouraging him, or helping him when school is a challenge. In fact, that he gets to be in at least some of the same classes as Willow, a genius and Buffy, who's SATs could have gotten her into most any college she wanted, suggests he must have some academic competence... though he also has some issues, as he doesn't always get great grades.

    I explore Xander's home life in one of my stories, and the more I thought about it, the more I admired him. It is HARD to be a success at life and school when you're in a home that is upheaval and upset and no one is minding the parenting store. If one parent is a drunk, it's likely there's money problems (suggested from some of the thrift store stuff we see Xander wearing). I think THAT is why he's not considered dating material by Cordelia initially... he's got no money. It's not just that she's rich and he's middle class. It's that he is actually POOR.

    Poverty is a challenge all by itself, even when NO ONE at home is dysfunctional. You can't afford the things that middle class and rich kids avail themselves of that make them competitive. You may need to work instead of taking an internship. You may have not slept or eaten well for days or weeks or months...

    So... why didn't Xander excel?

    He's got so many strikes against him, it's a wonder he actually survives.

    He actually does well to keep a sense of humor, to make friends with Willow and Jesse, then Buffy, Oz, Cordelia and eventually Anya... Instead of hooking up with the school trolls and doing drugs outside the dumpsters, he's hooked up with the resident geniuses, and the hottest girl, a brilliant librarian and a HERO. I call that success.

    - - - Updated - - -

    And dating someone can help boost confidence, but dating someone for a few months doesn't fix a lifetime of insecurity and disadvantage.

    Yes, they totally should have had Xander learn a fighting discipline. But (to be a bit cynical) it wasn't his show... Also, if he was 'big and strong' guy, he would have not been 'rescuable' by Buffy - he serves as a foil -- the man rescued by the tiny blonde. If he's a total kick ass, that can't happen.

    He seemed to acquit himself well enough to survive EVERY fight he's in. Remember, he may look ridiculous, but he's fighting things way more dangerous than he is in most cases... and he manage to survive... and I think even save or help save others. He's certainly fighting for others in the Vineyard when he gives up his eye.

    Finally, not everyone is a fighter. He's not EVER (useless Sunnydale) Wesley. He doesn't lack for physical courage. I would have liked to see him master something in a fighting style, or even learn to shoot, however.
    Last edited by DeepBlueJoy; 25-05-18, 05:11 PM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by DeepBlueJoy View Post
      Finally, not everyone is a fighter. He's not EVER Wesley. He doesn't lack for physical courage. I would have liked to see him master something in a fighting style, or even learn to shoot, however.
      I would say that Xander did learn how to shoot well. Xander was able to shoot the bringer's forearm skillfully in Dirty Girls. He also shot the demon he was looking for with Spike in Normal Again while lying on the ground. He probably practiced how to use a bow and an arrow off screen.

      Edit: In regards to Xander and his performance in school, I suggest you read this discussion in LJ: Xander, and sociology of education
      Made by Trickyboxes
      Halfrek gives Spike the curse that will change his entire life. Teenage Dirtbag

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      • #4
        He doesn`t limit himself at all. In season 7 he is mature, has found his place in life and is - except for the break up with Anya - happy about it.

        He does not frown upon what he has achieved all. He does not brag about it either, but he can be proud of it. He has a job, a reputation, an apartement, a car and in his leisure time he fights demons.
        He is not a Professor, but so what? He is in the cosntruction business and he enjoys, what he does. Willow and Buffy both dropped out of College/University and I don`t recall Willow ever having a job at all and Buffy`s most prolific job was being a part time students counsellor at Sunnydale High for - what? - three weeks? Then she got fired. Okay, it wasn`t her fault, she got fired, but still. She got fired. Xander did not.

        I think he is doing extremly well, especially, if you take in account the lack of support he got from his family.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Sosa lola View Post
          I would say that Xander did learn how to shoot well. Xander was able to shoot the bringer's forearm skillfully in Dirty Girls. He also shot the demon he was looking for with Spike in Normal Again while lying on the ground. He probably practiced how to use a bow and an arrow off screen.

          Edit: In regards to Xander and his performance in school, I suggest you read this discussion in LJ: Xander, and sociology of education
          Great article, and the comments after it are also worth reading. Yes, that thing. Undiagnosed learning disability... he mentioned testing to special ed once. He was at least average, if not above average in intelligence, as evidenced by vocabulary, and frankly by the company he keeps. Smart people don't hang out with idiots. They just don't. For one thing, they're often bored by 'normies' and for another, they're often asocial enough not to be polite about it. Anyway... point is, I don't think Xander is remotely stupid. Problems in school, yes, and a whole host of reasons... Remember Buffy had school issues too. I think that she tests well, and had an upper middle class set of advantages goes a long way for her and helps her excel in the SATs.

          The LD. See, I know a lot of kids, particularly twenty years ago, who made it through school barely because they compensated for undiagnosed Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia and Dysnomia or ADHD. I'm gonna skip dysnomia , b/c I don't think that was his issue, but it's quite possible he had issues with the others. Simple inability to write well enough to take good notes in class, or fast enough to take an entire test in the allotted time can affect grades. And without a parent to care, to advocate for him, it's possible that a well behaved child who isn't acting out is probably just gonna go down in the teacher's mind as 'a little slow'.

          I struggled with LDs in school, and got into trouble partly as a result. But my mother was there all along the watchtower, making sure that I got every possible resource, and some that probably shouldn't have been. When I was tested for my LD as an adult, the woman who administered my tests said my case was severe... and that most people who had my level of disability seldom graduated high school. I'd graduated and I had a job AND my own (struggling) business. Partly, I succeeded b/c I was bright as well as having a LD. And partly b/c I had support, and the resourcefulness that I probably only developed b/c I learned that there was a system and that I needed to avail myself of things like remedial math in University. I would probably not have learned to ask if I hadn't had a relentless parent and the EXPECTATION and KNOWLEDGE that i was "OF COURSE" college-bound.

          It never occurred to me until after university that I could have considered not going. The truth is, I might have been better served by going to technical school and becoming a mechanic or an electrician. I am a lot like Xander. I am very good with practical things. I teach myself those things the way people like Willow teach themselves math and magic. But women in the 1970s were just barely beginning to crack male professions, and usually, if you were middle class, you were expected to go the academic route. In the third world, mechanics don't work for dealerships, they work in greasy holes behind people's houses... and the atmosphere is often uncomfortable for women as CUSTOMERS. Since there were still white color jobs where it was not uncommon to hear 'we don't hire women', i gave up even the idea of a trade.

          Sometimes I wonder what life would have been like for me had I gone to trade school. I suspect it would have been a lot less of a challenge, as academic tracks really aren't my thing.

          So it annoys me more than a bit when people look down on his achievements... b/c he helped save the world, made something of himself without any resources, without superpowers and while living in the most dangerous town on the planet.

          Could he have done better? Unless you're a Nobel prize winning something or other, most people can answer yes to that question... sometimes even then. I've met a Nobel prize winning novelist, btw, a contemporary of a family member. That person is an ass. Talented, but I would not ever have wanted him to have my back. Point being that there are different kinds of accomplishments.

          Other than the hash he made of his love life, something that goes DIRECTLY back to his childhood and family issues, I think he's done better than could be expected. His friends probably helped... because, in part, they expected him to be there with them, so he did whatever he could to make that happen... including graduating high school with four bright middle class/upper middle class friends, at least two of whom were probably in the genius range (Willow, Oz).

          BTW, if there's a slacker, it's probably Oz. He did what he wanted to do... and took his 'break' year in high school instead of after!

          PS: there is one way he 'limited' himself. He didn't do what many people from bad families do as soon as they can... leave the old hometown for somewhere away from his bad memories and negative influences, so he can remake himself and HEAL. He stayed in Sunnydale for his friends and for the fight... something that was truly dangerous, and that may well have limited his opportunities.

          Imagine him in a new city, getting married away from all his toxic family. I can very easily imagine a little counseling, a little (maybe a lot of) perspective, and no drunk/crazy family at his wedding to screw it up and mess with his head! Maybe it could have gone a whole lot different.


          https://sites.google.com/site/thecur...a-and-dysnomia

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          Originally posted by Sosa lola View Post
          I would say that Xander did learn how to shoot well. Xander was able to shoot the bringer's forearm skillfully in Dirty Girls. He also shot the demon he was looking for with Spike in Normal Again while lying on the ground. He probably practiced how to use a bow and an arrow off screen.
          I meant guns. Great equalizer for people who aren't super strong... and tracer rounds will burn vampires. Some part of him knows how to shoot from back in the Halloween episode. I would have liked him to hone that. The only people in BTVS with guns have been Adam (surgically attached), Warren and Darla. It made all of them extremely dangerous.

          A head shot to a vampire might not kill it, but I bet it would make it unconscious for a very long time, maybe permanently, since stuff like brain matter, I don't think grows back... much easier to stake or burn them once they fall down... He might not have been the shot that Wes became, but even a decent shot can make a difference.
          Last edited by DeepBlueJoy; 25-05-18, 10:27 PM.

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